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VIDEO: 2014-15 Year in Review with Sandy Barbour

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: 2014-15 Season Highlights

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's 2014-15 season was one marked by excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. GoPSUsports.com takes a look back at the campaign in a season highlight reel.

VIDEO: Matt Brown - 2014-15 Academic All-America of the Year

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Matt Brown about earning the distinguished honor of being named Capital One Academic All-America of the Year on Thursday.

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Commemorating 25 Years of Penn State and the Big Ten

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Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).

By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.

It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited to become a member in 1949.

The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would bridge a Midwestern league to the East.

The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.

Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten could foster.

"The Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week. "Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast, I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the time."

The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.

When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.

"I remember talking in front of the group about the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about at-large teams."

The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the classroom.

"From a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of the Big Ten."

The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.

"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."

It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.

"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno," Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"


The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.

Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost immediately.

"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs," Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that, we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten, collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."

At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.

"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was.  When you take a job, that is the job you took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."

The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field hockey program.

"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to be a first rate facility."

The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.

"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared," said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to be relevant."

Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92 Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally, more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten titles.

Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.

"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly 600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are immeasurable."

The women's volleyball program earned Penn State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative 16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA Championships since 1999.

Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.

The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0 record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships to date (2005 and 2008).

The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).


Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.

It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated relationships with premier student-athletes.

"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we go out recruiting student-athletes."

A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes,  increased visibility across the country for the department in a way that cannot be measured.

"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and the sport."

The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased revenues for each institution.

"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.


In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.


While the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success aids in the growth of the collective conference.

"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."

"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help one another out for the betterment of the conference.

"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."

Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.

A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.

"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the national scene."

Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks for itself.

By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote concluded 25 years ago today.


The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten titles in March of 2011.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day VI - Lehigh Valley & Wilkes-Barre

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Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Day IV Recap - Philadelphia & Langhorne | Day V Recap - New York & New Jersey

Photo Gallery - Lehigh Valley | Photo Gallery - Wilks-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300 enthusiastic Penn State fans.

More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May 3 in Harrisburg.

"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is unbelievable."

The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers. Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named "Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities on the road.

The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.

A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the Caravan.

And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states and the District of Columbia.

We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.

Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn Allentown - I-78)
caravan2015_LV_3.jpgcaravan2015_LV_1.jpgVideo: Lehigh Valley Press Conference

Stop No. 12 - Wilkes-Barre (F.M. Kirby Center)
caravan2015_WB_1.jpgcaravan2015_WB_2.jpgcaravan2015_WB_3.jpgVideo: Wilkes-Barre Press Conference

2015 Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Day VI - 270 miles

Caravan Total - 1,312 miles


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

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Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

VIDEO: New York City Press Conference

Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day IV - Philadelphia & Langhorne

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Photo Gallery - Philadelphia | Photo Gallery - Langhorne

PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.

Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.

Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.

"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.

The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.

"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."

caravan2015_philly_1.jpgRose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.

"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."

Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.

"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."

Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.

"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.

All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.

"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.

VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference

Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.

Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.

"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.

The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.

"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.

You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.

Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.

He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.

Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.

"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.

Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.

"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.

The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.


VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles

Caravan Total - 935 miles


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Session VI Roundup: Matt Brown Wins National Title

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature | Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature
Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown etched his place into Penn State wrestling lore with a dramatic 5-4 victory in the 2015 NCAA title match at 174 pounds on Saturday night inside the Scottrade Center.

A model student-athlete in every sense of the word, Brown became Penn State's 23rd national champion (29 overall titles) in unique fashion on a locked hands technical point at the buzzer in the third period. Nevertheless, Brown earned the victory and will forever be a member of an elite club in wrestling history.

"When you're a little kid you dream of hitting that grand slam in the ninth inning, and sometimes it's a bunt," Brown said. "Still get the job done."

Brown will finish a stellar Penn State career with a 118-16 overall record. A three-time All-American, the Utah native notched his third-straight finish in the top five at the national tournament this season. A tireless worker on and off the mat, Brown is a humble national champion for the Penn State Blue and White.

"Pretty cool. I didn't expect the match to end like that. But that's how the ball bounces and it landed my way this time," said Brown.

As a team, the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will come to a close at four, but Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a very young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions totaled five All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With Brown's national championship, the Nittany Lions finished with 26 total victories and 67.5 points at the 2015 national tournament.

Final Team Standings
1. Ohio State - 102.0
2. Iowa - 84.0
3. Edinboro - 75.5
4. Missouri - 73.5
5. Cornell - 71.5
6. Penn State - 67.5

Brown_NCAA Title.jpgIt's rare to come across a student-athlete more deserving of success than Brown. One of the most polite individuals you will ever meet off the mat, Brown is a tenacious wrestler with a never-ending motor in the circle. His march through the 174-pound draw featured a pair of majors and three-straight victories that were decided by one point.

Battling eighth-seeded Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh) in the national title match, Brown trailed 1-0 after two periods before a frenetic third. The Nittany Lion senior escaped to start the third to make it a 1-1 match. Brown added a takedown for a 3-1 lead. Wilps added an escape and then scored a takedown of his own to claim a 4-3 lead in the final 20 seconds. But Brown was not done.

10920500.jpegAwarded a stalling point in the final four seconds, Brown and Wilps finished the match off with the score tied at 4-4. Looking like a bout destined for sudden victory, the officials reviewed and awarded Brown a point for a Wilps locked hands violation, thus giving Brown his first national championship.

"I was disappointed I gave up the late takedown, but felt confident I could get away still and tie up the match," said Brown. "Had a tough ride, kind of just trying to get the time off the clock. Once the challenge started I felt comfortable because I knew he locked hands, and I was trying to point that out."

Brown's approach to the Penn State program has been team-first every second he has been in Happy Valley. He has the utmost respect from his fellow teammates and coaching staff.

"I just know how important it has been for Matt to be a national champion," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's been talking about being a national champion since we first started recruiting him many years ago. He's done everything we've asked him to do, the little things...I'm very happy for him. I'm very proud of him. He did a great job. And Matt Brown is a national champion."

Simply put, no one has deserved the opportunity to have his hand raised on the sport's ultimate stage than Brown. He is a first-class individual with an infectious personality, who has been truly grateful for the opportunity to be a student-athlete.

"He's a kid who has done everything we have asked," head assistant coach Casey Cunningham said. "He's one of the hardest workers we've ever had. He's a 4.0 (GPA) student...He's the type of kid you never worry about outside the room. You know he is doing the right things in leading the young guys. He's just been a pleasure to work with."

As Coach Sanderson succinctly put it, Matt Brown is a national champion for Penn State. And he will wear the crown with nothing but dignity and class.

The 2015 NCAA Championships are now complete. And attention has already turned to next season's national tournament, which will take place inside Madison Square Garden from March 15-17. Mark your calendars. The program will celebrate Brown's achievement, but the team has an eye on what lies ahead in the future.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3 - Eighth Place (All-American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (29-3) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION (All-American)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)

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2015 NCAA Session V Roundup: McIntosh Takes Third

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature | Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - By no means was the road to the top line of the consolation bracket and easy one for Morgan McIntosh on Saturday morning, but the junior knocked off a pair of top seeds on Saturday to cap off a strong run through the back draw en route to finishing third at 197 pounds during the medal round of the NCAA Championships.

McIntosh downed top-seeded J'Den Cox (Missouri) in the consolation semifinals before defeating fifth-seeded Scott Schiller (Minnesota) in the third-place match. Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon also won his final match of the tournament to finish in fifth spot at 133 pounds.

In addition to McIntosh and Gulibon, Jordan Conaway (125) and Jimmy Lawson (285) wrapped up competition in the medal round on Saturday morning. Conwaway finished eighth and Lawson was sixth. All five Lions in action on Saturday will head home as All-Americans for 2015.

While the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will end at four, Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions had five All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With McIntosh's two wins and one from Gulibon, Penn State finished the fifth session with 63.5 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.

Session V Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 94.0 (3 Finalists)
2. Iowa - 84.0. (1 Finalist)
3. Edinboro - 75.5 (2 Finalists)
4. Missouri - 69.5 (1 Finalist)
5. Cornell - 67.5 (2 Finalists)
6. Penn State - 63.5 (1 Finalist)

10916839.jpegEntering the week as the Big Ten champion and second overall seed, McIntosh looked to be a prime candidate to wrestle in the national final at 197 pounds. But a narrow 3-2 setback in the quarterfinals sent the California native to the consolation draw.

McIntosh knew the Nittany Lions were counting on him to rebound after the loss, and he did so with a vengeance. Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, McIntosh rattled off four-straight victories in the back draw on his way to third. The list included three-straight over top six seeds in the 197-pound draw.

"It hurts to take a loss like that and know you can't get on the top of the podium this year, but I've learned over the years to put it in the past and not dwell on it," said McIntosh. "You can't think about what could have been or what you could have done. You can take away a lesson to learn from it, but you can't dwell on it and have negative thoughts in your head because that's just going to bring you down when you need to step up in wrestlebacks."

His first bout on Saturday featured a showdown with the No. 1 wrestler at 197. Down 1-0 after the first period against No. 1 Cox, McIntosh roared to an escape and takedown in the third period for a 3-1 win in the consolation semifinals. Then, he wasted little time grabbing a lead in the third-place match against Schiller. McIntosh used a pair of first-period takedowns for 4-1 edge. He added two reversals and a third takedown for a 12-7 victory to claim third.

The junior finished a stellar season with a 32-3 overall record and a Big Ten title. McIntosh will have 365 days to wait, but he is primed to make a run in next year's national tournament.

Gulibon also showed a great deal of grit during the week in St. Louis. Like everyone in the lineup, the 133-pound sophomore had aspirations of being on the stage in the finals on Saturday night. He fell just short in Friday's semifinals in a 7-5 decision against Iowa's Cory Clark. Gulibon dropped his first match on Saturday, but he battled back with a 9-5 win over Mason Beckman from Lehigh.

"(In a way), I'm glad I got fifth because it will serve as great motivation during the offseason," Gulibon said. "I need to work on finishing shots in the offseason, but everyone wrestled well (this week), and I'm looking forward to next year."

Lawson finished sixth after coming up short in a 6-0 decision against Iowa's Bobby Telford, but will finish as an All-American. Conaway came home with an eighth place finish at 125 pounds after yielding a last-second takedown to Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara in the seventh-place match. Nonetheless, the junior finished 2015 as an All-American.

All eyes now shift towards the national finals. Matt Brown will wrestle on the sport's grandest stage in the 174-pound final on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN). The championship finals will begin at 149 pounds, so Brown and Tyler Wilps of Pitt will wrestle in the fourth match on the lineup. Brown beat Wilps by a score of 6-5 at the Southern Scuffle in January.

"He is one of my best friends on the team, and he has been awesome," McIntosh said. "I'm so happy for him. He deserves this more than anyone. He's been a great partner (in the wrestling room), a great mentor and a great friend. I respect him a ton. I'm so excited to watch him."

The Nittany Lion senior is Penn State's 16th finalist since 2010. And by virtue of Brown competing in the final, it marks the sixth-straight year that a Nittany Lion is a national finalist.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3 - Eighth Place (All-American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (28-3) - 4-0 - National Final (All-American)
Up Next: Championship Round vs. No. 8 Tyler Wilps (Pitt)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)

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2015 NCAA Session IV Roundup: Brown Headed to NCAA Final

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Following a 1-0 victory in the national semifinals on Friday evening, senior Matt Brown is headed to the 174-pound national title match at the NCAA Championships.

The undoubted team leader for Nittany Lion wrestling will compete in the tournament final for the second time in three seasons on Saturday inside the Scottrade Center. Brown's semifinal victory headlined a day where five Penn State wrestlers earned All-America honors in St. Louis.

"It was a tough semifinal match against Mike Evans of Iowa," Brown said. "He's a tough competitor. I was fortunate to come out with the W. It was a close match."

In addition to Brown, Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) are All-Americans for 2015 and remain alive in the consolation bracket.

In all, Penn State will have five wrestlers in action on Saturday, with one in the finals (Brown), three in the consolation semifinals (Gulibon, McIntosh and Lawson) and one in a seventh place bout (Jordan Conaway). Fueled by Brown's win in the semifinals, Penn State finished the fourth session of the tournament with 58.0 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.

Session IV Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 86.5 (3 Finalists/2 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 73. (1 Finalist/5 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 66.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
4. Edinboro - 64.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 60.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)
6. Penn State - 58.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)

10915562.jpegWrestling for the third time since Feb. 8, Brown and Mike Evans are no strangers to one another. And like the first two meetings between the two, Friday's semifinal tilt was a chess match between two guys who are tough to score against. Coming into the match, neither wrestler had given up a takedown during the tournament. And that did not change after seven minutes of action in the semifinals.

After a scoreless first period, Brown started in the down position to start the second. He popped free for an escape point and a 1-0 lead after two frames. However, rather than start in the down position to begin the third period like he did in the previous two meetings this season, Evans chose the neutral position in the third. Down 1-0, the Iowa senior went on the attack with shot attempt after shot attempt in the latter stages of the match, but Brown was not going to be denied an opportunity to wrestle on the stage Saturday night.

"Just keep wrestling tough. That was one thing. I wanted to go in and wrestle through every position, and I was able to do that," Brown said. "I wasn't able to get the takedown like I wanted. But in the Big Ten finals, I gave up some scrambles. That was something I was trying to work on consciously."

Saturday evening will be Brown's second appearance on the sport's biggest stage. The Utah native dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to No. 1 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) in the 174-pound final in 2013. Brown has that experience in the back of his mind, and he has learned from it.

"Two years ago was the first time I was here at the NCAA Tournament," said Brown. "I wasn't complacent at all, but I was ecstatic just to be in the finals and I wrestled a really tough match and ended up dropping in overtime in a loss. But I didn't celebrate after my quarters becoming an All-American, because that's not my goal. I'll have a chance to achieve that tomorrow."

Gulibon's semifinal match against Iowa's Cory Clark featured a frenetic pace from start to finish. After a scoreless first, Gulibon got on the board with a reversal early in the second period. Clark scored an escape point and then secured a takedown for a 3-2 lead after two. In the third, Clark's lead grew to 6-2 with an escape and takedown. Gulibon notched an escape and a takedown to make it 6-5, but with riding time, Clark moved into the national semifinals with a 7-5 victory.

The Nittany Lion sophomore has wrestled very well in St. Louis, but came up just shy of finishing a takedown shot when the match was 4-2 in the third. Clark countered for a takedown and a 6-2 lead. The margin for error is incredibly thin when it comes to the national tournament. Nonetheless, Gulibon is very much alive in the race for third.

Joining Gulibon in the consolation semifinals will be McIntosh (197) and Lawson (285). Both McIntosh and Lawson notched two victories on Friday evening to remain alive in the race for third spot at their respective weight classes.

For Lawson, his journey to the starting lineup was by no means easy as a Nittany Lion wrestler, but the New Jersey native is now an All-American and will have the opportunity to wear the Penn State singlet one more time on Saturday.

"It hasn't been easy, but it means a lot to me (to be an All-American)," Lawson said. "Obviously, I wanted to have the chance to wrestle for a title, but being a senior and having the chance to wrestle for third is something I'm really looking forward to."

Session five begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The fifth session is the medal round, with consolation action leading up to the third, fifth and seventh place matches.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-8) - 4-2 - Seventh Place Match (All-American)
Up Next: Seventh Place Match vs. No. 7 Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-8) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round vs. No. 9 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (28-3) - 4-0 - National Final (All-American)
Up Next: Championship Round vs. No. 8 Tyler Wilps (Pitt)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (29-3) - 4-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round vs. No. 1 J'Den Cox (Missouri)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-4) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)

Up Next: Consolation Semifinal vs. No. 2 Michael McMullan (Northwestern)

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony